Dull Roots, Spring Rain has got us sprung on dance

Entertainment

Dream Again Dance Company seeks to bring contemporary dance to the Oxford stage, saving us from our comfortable cocoons of Miller and Pinter revivals with this innovative new dance production.  The press pack describes her piece as “a poignant exposition of the universal theme of growing up, leaving behind past innocence and reconciling oneself to the present.”

It’s a mammoth undertaking, but Emily Romain, the Artistic Director, is pragmatic, but not daunted by it.  She splits her hour-long piece into three separate dance pieces, the sum of which, will impart an overall thematic crescendo.  Spring is an emotional tirade that deals with bittersweet nostalgia and resolution; Roots is a revision of the Persephone myth; Rain is the pay-off, the point when the past and present resolve themselves, peacefully.

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Their target audience extends beyond those trained in dance – and, with Romain’s cast and crew taking a huge bite out of Oxford’s dance demographic, Dull Roots, Spring Rain might be left with an empty O’Reilly come next Wednesday were it not so accessible to the average play-goer.  The most significant credit that I can give to this (or, indeed, any) production is its ability to tell its story clearly and elegantly.  The cast, in every part of their body, are receptive to the mood, and change with rapid grace to depict every new transformation within the piece.  Her classically trained cast are technically skilled, and, though the choreography could be little tighter, it’s still early days before their debut.  Hopefully, the adrenaline of the performance brings some much needed energy to some of the cast who are outshone by over-reaching counterparts.

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The choreography is accessible without being infantile.  Both of particular note, a scene between Persephone (Imogen Truphet) and her over-bearing mother, Demeter (Bronwyn Tarr), is playfully and lovingly told, and the story of Persephone’s temptation utilises small red juggling balls, which the temptresses (Anna Torvaldsen, Katherine Skingsley, and Asya Gutnikova) roll sensuously between their hands, the small but pointed motion is chilling to watch.

If the rest of the production is as thoughtful as the scenes that I was shown, then this will certainly be a thought-provoking performance.  Though such praise may not mean much from someone whose training in dance is more akin to Riverdance than DV8, the production makes for a thoroughly watchable experience.

Dull Roots, Spring Rain will run in the O’Reilly Theatre, Keble from Tuesday the 5th to Saturday 9th February.  Tickets available for £8/£6.

PHOTOS/ Dream Again Dance Company

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